On Thursday, the St. Louis Cardinals took a pass on the MLB Rule 5 Draft. With roster questions still unanswered, what happens now?
The St. Louis Cardinals found their 40-man roster still at 37 after Thursday’s MLB Rule 5 Draft. The Cardinals elected not make any selections during the three round event, leaving many in their fanbase asking, “What happens now?”
The obvious answers would seem to be:
(1) It leaves two of the roster spots open for the Cardinals to re-sign fan favorites Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright.
(2) Another roster spot could be left open for the Cardinals to sign a free agent to help address offensive problems, primarily an outfielder. That could be someone as coveted as George Springer, or someone more economically realistic such as Joc Pederson.
(3). Leave an roster spot open for an internal solution at third base such as Juan Yepez.
However, even though these scenarios might still happen, this isn’t a normal offseason.
As most know, the COVID crisis has left major league teams uncertain what their revenue situation will be in 2021. Consequently, re-signing aging team icons is not an automatic move anymore. Also, bringing in a high-end free agent on a long-term contract in order to solve your offensive problems, is likely prohibitive.
Let’s take a look at these three options.
The Team Icons
It seems everyone is saying the right thing about bringing back Molina and Wainwright. Both players have said they would prefer to come back to the Cardinals and the front office has said they would like to bring the two fan favorites back to St. Louis. So leaving two roster spaces available makes sense.
Nevertheless, nothing seems to be written in stone. News on the Molina front seems to indicate the two sides aren’t really close to a deal. He wants at least two years and the Cardinals only want to go one year. If he isn’t re-signed, then his roster space would likely go to either Tyler Heineman or a free-agent journeyman catcher.
Wainwright would seem to be, if not a lock, a near certainty to return in 2021. The 39-year old, unlike Molina, has indicated his willingness to return on a one-year deal. If Wainwright is willing to accept an incentive laden contract, the 2020 Roberto Clemente Award winner should be in a Cardinal uniform next year.
A Free Agent Outfielder
One of those roster positions is probably being held for a potential free agent signing. By all indications, the Cardinals would like to add a bat for 2021 in order to improve the offense. The outfield has been the focus during this off season and there are some options for the Cardinals.
On the high end, a talent such as the two time Silver Slugger George Springer, would effectively address the Cardinals offensive problems. But a talent such as Springer is unlikely to be in the Cardinals budget for 2021.
Two lower cost options (and more pragmatic) who have received some attention here at Redbird Rants are 28-year old former Dodger, Joc Pederson and 26-year old David Dahl. Both need to show more consistency, but have already demonstrated power in their young careers.
Internal Third Base Options
With Kolten Wong now a free agent and unlikely to return to St. Louis, Tommy Edman has been named as Wong’s replacement in 2021 at second base. This effectively opens up third base and has created a hole.
Matt Carpenter will certainly be an option at third (probably the Opening Day starter). However, with the Cardinals offensive struggles in 2020, they will certainly be looking at other options, maybe even a platoon situation. Edmundo Sosa and Elehuris Montero are on the 40-man roster and will be given a close look during Spring Training.
Nevertheless, I believe they could look an internal option not currently on the roster, like Juan Yepez. I stated my case earlier at Redbird Rants on why Yepez could be an internal option for the Cardinals at third base.
The St. Louis Cardinals were clearly making a statement by passing on the Rule 5 Draft. They want to keep those roster spots available.
I believe two of the spots are being kept open for Molina and Wainwright, while the Cardinals continue to negotiate with both players. Additionally, I believe the third roster spot is being kept open for the signing of a potential budget-friendly free agent outfielder.
Finally, I believe the Cardinals would like to take a close look at their current options available in the organization at third base. However, keeping a roster spot available for an external option at third base would come into play if one of the other above scenarios fall through.